Everything You Need to Know About Incontinence After Prostate Surgery

The male prostate is a gland found under the bladder and in front of the rectum. It has a significant role in the male reproductive system that creates fluids that carry your sperm. You might need surgery to partially or fully remove your prostate if you have prostate cancer, an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Removing part or all of your prostate is called a prostatectomy. There are potential side effects to prostate surgery, such as prostate surgery incontinence.

What Is Prostate Surgery Incontinence?

Prostate surgery incontinence is when you involuntarily release urine from your bladder. It can affect men of any age, but it is not a normal part of aging. It commonly occurs after having prostate surgery and is generally temporary.

What Are the Causes of Incontinence after Prostate Surgery?

You will typically have leaks when you sneeze, cough, or lift something heavy. These actions cause stress on the bladder, which can then allow leaks. You might also have urge incontinence, which is when you have a sudden urge to use the bathroom but leak before getting there.

Potential Side Effects of Prostate Surgery

Incontinence is just one potential side effect of prostate surgery. Some other side effects you might have to deal with include:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Changes in orgasm
  • Loss of fertility/decreased fertility
  • Lymphedema (This is rare)
  • Change in penis length
  • More likely to develop an inguinal/groin hernia

Types of Incontinence After Prostate Surgery

There are two main types of incontinence following prostate surgery.

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when stress is placed on your bladder. This can happen as you move around or sneeze, cough, or laugh. You might find that you just dribble a little urine, or you might fully leak urine.

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence, on the other hand, is not caused by any actions you do. Your bladder may randomly contract, causing you to suddenly feel like you need to use the bathroom. However, you will begin to leak before you can make it to the bathroom. Again, the amount you leak will vary from person to person.

Man in dark room with his head in his hand looking depressed

How Long Does Post-Surgery Incontinence Last?

The amount of time you might have to deal with incontinence varies by person but can be affected by things such as your age and weight. It can potentially last weeks, months, or even over a year. However, most people deal with it for around three months. There are treatments if you aren’t able to get it under control.

How to Stop Post-Surgery Incontinence

Your steps for stopping post-surgery incontinence depend on the type of incontinence you have.

Stress Incontinence

If you have stress incontinence, there are several things you can do to help.

Biofeedback

This mind-body therapy is an alternative medicine approach. It teaches people to change the way their bodies work and can help improve their mental and physical health. 

During biofeedback, a practitioner will use monitoring equipment and various instruments to measure how your body functions. They can then use that feedback to suggest how you can make physiological changes. Then, after some time practicing, you can do it without the equipment. 

Exercises

You can also do certain exercises to help control your bladder. Here are some examples:

  • Sitting Fast-Twitch Exercise
  • Sitting Slow-Twitch Exercise
  • Horizontal Kegel Exercise
  • Standing Kegel Exercise

Surgery

There are two main surgeries to help with your incontinence. First, you can get an artificial sphincter, which is a patient-controlled device. It is made of three parts, including a pressure-regulating balloon, a pump, and a cuff that encircles the urethra. The cuff prevents urine from leaking. The artificial sphincter generally improves around 70% to 80% of cases.

You can also get a bulbourethral sling. In certain situations, a sling can be helpful. It is a device that suspends and compresses the urethra. The sling can be made from the patient’s tissue or synthetic material. It creates the urethral compression that is needed to get bladder control.

Urge Incontinence

If you suffer from urge incontinence, there are multiple solutions to help you.

Double Voiding

Double voiding is a simple process that can help ensure you get all the urine out when using the restroom. Follow these steps.

  1. Sit on the toilet and lean slightly forward.
  2. Rest your hands on your knees or thighs.
  3. Urinate as normal and try to get everything out.
  4. Stay sitting on the toilet for another 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Lean a little further forward and try urinating again.

Dietary Modification

You will want to implement these dietary changes to help with incontinence.

  • Watch the amount of water you drink. Don’t drink too much or too little.
  • Cut out alcohol to start, and then slowly reintroduce it to see what your bladder can handle.
  • Lower your caffeine intake.
  • Avoid spicy and acidic foods.
  • Stop drinking carbonated drinks.

Bladder Training

You can do certain things to train your bladder so that you don’t have to use the bathroom as often. Follow these steps.

  1. Create a journal of when you have the urge to use the bathroom and when you leak.
  2. Figure out when you’re feeling the urge to use the bathroom based on your journal entries. Then schedule a bathroom visit for that time plus 15 minutes. So, if you were going every hour, schedule a bathroom break for every hour and 15 minutes and try to go even if you think you don’t need to. Slowly increase the amount of time between visits to the bathroom.
  3. Every time you feel the need to urinate, try to hold it for five minutes. Slowly increase this time in ten-minute increments until you don’t need to use the bathroom for at least three or four hours.

Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises

Kegel exercises are popular for helping with incontinence. Here’s how they work.

  1. Identify your pelvic floor muscles by stopping urination in midstream or by tightening the muscles that stop you from passing gas.
  2. Next, tighten these muscles, hold them for three seconds, and then relax the muscles for three seconds. Do it multiple times in a row.
  3. Make sure you only tighten your pelvic muscles and not muscles in your thighs, abdomen, or buttocks. Also, ensure you are freely breathing rather than holding your breath.
  4. Try to do at least three sets of 10 repetitions each day.

Get Relief from Incontinence after Prostate Surgery

Incontinence isn’t something anyone wants to deal with, but it’s an unfortunate reality for some people after prostate surgery. The good news is there is plenty you can do to help relieve your incontinence symptoms. Contact us today to get relief from your prostate surgery incontinence.

Resources referenced:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/8096-prostate-cancer-urinary-incontinence-after-surgery 

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/treating/surgery.html#:~:text=Side%20effects%20of%20prostate%20surgery,forms%20of%20prostate%20cancer%20treatment

https://www.healthline.com/health/prostate-surgery#surgery-types 

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/13354-biofeedback 

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/exercises-urinary-incontinence#:~:text=Step%201%3A%20Sitting%20in%20a,complete%20three%20sets%20per%20day

https://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/mens-guide/urinary-incontinence#2 

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316706#treatment 

https://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/features/oab-diet 

https://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/bladder-training-techniques 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/mens-health/in-depth/kegel-exercises-for-men/art-20045074#:~:text=Tighten%20your%20pelvic%20floor%20muscles,Maintain%20your%20focus

About The Incontinence Institute

At the Incontinence Institute, our team of healthcare providers understand the physical and mental trials that accompany living with urinary or bowel incontinence. Because of this, we are sensitive to your situation and treat all of our patients with the utmost respect and concern for discretion.


Individual incontinence conditions, treatment and recovery times may vary. Each patient's experience with incontinence procedures and / or surgery will differ. All surgical procedures involve some level of risk. If directed to pursue surgery by your physician, prompt action is advised, as waiting may reduce the efficacy of surgical treatment. The opinions expressed in patient testimonials are by patients only; they are not qualified medical professionals. These opinions should not be relied upon as, or in place of, the medical advice of a licensed doctor, etc.

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